#WĀHINEWEDNESDAY: Abigail Uttley
YWCA Hamilton's Community Connector
We decided that our Community Connector, Abigail Uttley (one of the new-ish faces working here at Hamilton’s YWCA) should be the focus for this week’s Wāhine Wednesday! Abigail is full of energy and innovative ideas that keep our Hamilton office buzzing. She is always encouraging and inspiring our YWCA family and we love her positive, can-do attitude and self-motivation to get out there and connect with the community.
Abigail has lived in many different spots in New Zealand, so she couldn’t quite pin down a region that she would classify as her hometown! She has lived in Auckland, the Philippines, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin, Tauranga and her most recent city to-date; our very own Hamilton. Similar to her choice to live in a range of areas, Abigail also chose to study a varied range of subjects during high school and post-high school. Her university studies included: English, Law, Music, Economics, Human Resource Management and Teaching. Safe to say, she is a jack-of-all-trades who seeks out new experiences.
We were very excited to learn more about Abigail in her answers below:
What’s your go-to cuisine?
Mexican for sure. It’s got a lot going for it - flavour, spice and crunch. All for a reasonable price!
What would we find on your ‘recent watches’ on Netflix?
The Sinner - Season 3. It’s a traumatic and unrelaxing watch, but I can’t seem to stop. I also have been dabbling in New Girl as a more therapeutic and easy-viewing material to counter the effects of The Sinner.
Top place to visit and explore beyond New Zealand (whenever that’s an option)?
Italyyyy. I have a very very small claim to a very very diluted Italian heritage and I weave this fact into conversations as much as possible, such as now. And, as a nod to my distant relatives, I can’t wait to visit and soak up the Tuscan sun, eat pasta and speak with my hands during my future explorations there.
What brought you to Hamilton?
Postgraduate studies in Human Resource Management and piano exams. I was previously in Tauranga and wanted a fresh change and scene to complete the aforementioned studies and Hamilton was close-by, so it didn’t feel like a big deal and upheaval to head over the Kaimai’s into the basin that is Hamilton.
You seem to enjoy change and revel in a broad range of hobbies and areas of interest. Has this always been the case for you?
Yeah mostly. I would say it’s not always a positive thing though, as this approach to life can spread you thin and I do envy others who have an area of speciality that they become thorough experts in. I think my jack-of-all-trades approach to life has stemmed from a mixture of indecisiveness, curiosity and hard work. Because I have a fairly strong work ethic and determination, I am able to pick up different skills and areas of study even if they don’t come naturally, thus why I was a science nerd at school, then ended up completing a Bachelor of Arts at Otago University. I also find it hard to choose what to do, so my basic solution is to try and do it all haha. Also, I love meeting different people and hearing about what they do which, in turn, introduces new ideas and doors for me to explore and walk through.
Lastly, my family moved a lot and my siblings and I were encouraged to learn musical instruments, study a range of subjects, and play a range of sports from a young age. Essentially, my parents were trying to create super-human offspring. Consequently, change doesn’t scare me, rather it excites me and is almost habitual now.
Have you had any major hurdles/obstacles that have thrown a curveball at your life plans?
I have had a few ‘hiccups’ over the years, which is probably a result of me refusing to slow down and listen to my body. I had Glandular fever over my first three years of working as a teacher - which was extremely draining, but I didn’t take the time to look after myself thus why it lingered for so long. I’ve also had a few random events such as Dengue fever whilst living in a hut in Vanuatu, being hit by a stag and running out of petrol whilst driving through a desert by myself in America, and passing out from an unknown illness whilst driving on a motorway….. Those are just a few of a distressingly long list of a series of unfortunate events. This comes as part of the deal of choosing to be a somewhat spontaneous risk-taker. Fortunately, I’m learning to be a little more cautious now.
You chose to leave a high school teaching career to work here at the YWCA of Hamilton. Why is that?
After completing 6 years of teaching, at various high schools, I felt the need for change as I’m always looking for new areas of challenge - which I guess is part and parcel of my personality type (Type 7 enneagram).
Working at a non-for-profit, with a broad range of areas to work in and help others with, excited me.
I am definitely enjoying the opportunity to meet and greet a broad range of exciting women who are doing interesting and meaningful things - things I would not have been aware of if I didn’t enter this not-for-profit world. I also love the opportunities that come with a job with a broad and flexible job description.
Lastly, is there a particular cause that affects women that you are passionate about?
An area I am particularly passionate about is having the opportunity to hear people’s stories and to voice and share your own. Everyone has different life experiences, pain and joys and wisdom to share and it’s important to hear these and learn from them. Atticus Finch gets it:
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from (their) point of view . . . until you climb into (their) skin and walk around in it.”